Sultan Malik al Kamil and St Francis

Sultan Malik al Kamil

Sultan Al-Kamil was born in 1180 and was a Kurdish Ayyubid sultan who ruled North Africa. During his tenure as sultan, the Ayyo Territories defeated two crusades. The Yojobids were an Islamic dynasty of Kurds, ruling over (parts of) Syria, Egypt and northern Iraq in the 12th and 13th centuries.

The dynasty was founded by Saladin, who conquered Egypt in 1169. In 1172 Saladin defeated the last caliph of the Fatimids. The Fatimids were Isma’iliten, a branch of Shiism. Saladin converted the Egyptians to become Sunni again.



Al-Malik al-Kamil (“the perfect prince”) took control of Egypt in 1218 after the death of his father, al-Malik al-‘Adil (The brother of Salah al-Din,

He was therefore a relative of Francis. The victory of Saladin was a glorious victory for him that made it possible for Muslims to visit the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the holy place where Muhammad had made his night trip to heaven and where after his death the Al-Aqsa Mosque was first built, later followed by the Dome of the Rock. After Mecca with his Kaaba and Medina with its mosque, Jerusalem was the third most important city in Islam.

When al-Kamil was eleven years old, he had a special experience that could have helped determine his later life and the various peace initiatives he developed to put an end to the crusades. During the third crusade, Richard the Lionheart had to acknowledge that the reconquest of Jerusalem seemed to become increasingly unattainable. Because of the continuing loss of troops, his troops were seriously weakened. This situation made it less and less likely that he could drive Saladin out of Jerusalem. When, on top of all this, Richard was told that his younger brother was planning an uprising against him, he decided to try to reach his goal in a different, more political way. He established peaceful relations with Saladin and especially with his younger brother al-Adil, one of Saladin’s most important advisors and generals, for whom Richard had taken a great admiration.

Al-Kamil was also involved in one of these attempts. Richard not only proposed that his sister, Johanna, Queen of Sicily, who stayed with him in Akko, marry al-Adil, he also took the plan on al-Kamil, al-Adil’s son and Saladin’s cousin, in Akko raise the knighthood.

While the first proposal led to nothing – Johanna only wanted to marry al-Adil if he would become a Christian – al-Kamil was knighted by Richard on March 29, 1192. This ceremony, which undoubtedly had to make a big impression on al-Kamil, not only created a bond between the two parties, but also underlined their mutual intention to resolve the conflict in a peaceful way. Evidence of this was Richard’s file, which he concluded with Saladin before his return to England, and which provided Christians with the opportunity to visit Jerusalem and the holy places under certain conditions.

When Saladin died in 1193, a power struggle broke out among his sons who asked their uncle al-Adil to act as a mediator. As a result of his mediation, al-Adil got more and more power. As a result, in 1200, when one of Saladin’s sons died, he could take over the power in Egypt and then quickly expand it over the entire former Saladin kingdom, which extended over present-day Egypt, Syria and Palestine and the north. from Iraq. Once in power, he appointed his three sons as viceroys

in the various territories, where he assigned al-Kamil, only twenty years old, to Egypt.

Egypt was at that time a country with a religiously mixed population that consisted largely of Coptic Christians. Some of them held important administrative functions in the country. They did not even belong to the court. For example, the al-Kamil physician was a Christian and another Christian was an important advisor to his father. Coptic columnists praise al-Kamil for his tolerant attitude, which he already developed as viceroy towards Christians.

Also known is al-Kamils ​​friendly contact with and his admiration for a Christian hermit whom he met on the way. During their conversation, al-Kamil told him about pain in his guts. The hermit prayed for him and gave him oil to rub the painful spot. When al-Kamil did this, the pain disappeared immediately.

He also regularly acted as a mediator in conflicts between Christians and Muslims and he even established peace within the Christian community when it was strongly divided during the choice of a new patriarch. Al-Malik’s tolerant and sympathetic attitude towards the Christians, however, did not mean that he was prepared to convert to Christianity. He was and remained a devout Sunni Muslim who was very concerned to open the consolidation of Islam through Koranic schools.

Mausoleum of Fakr al-Farisi, a Persian-born mystic and lawyer († 1225),

In his life and thinking he was strongly influenced by two important Sufi advisors: Fakr al-Farisi, a Persian-born mystic and lawyer († 1225), and the mystic and poet Ibn al-Farid (1181-1235). Sufism is known for its tolerant attitude towards other religions. Thus it formed a confirmation and reinforcement for the tolerant attitude that al-Kamil had inherited from home. These Sufi counselors did not live at court, where they would not have felt in their place because of their austere, ascetic way of life.

The poetry of Shaykh Umar ibn al-Farid is considered by many to be the culmination of Arabic mystical literature, although surprisingly he is not widely known in the West. (Rumi and Hafiz, probably the most famous Sufi poets in the West, both wrote mostly in Persian, not Arabic.) The two masterpieces of Ibn al-Farid are “The Wine Ode”, a beautiful meditation on the “wine” of divine bliss, and the poem “The Sufi Way”, a profound exploration of spiritual experience along the Sufi path and perhaps the longest mystical poem composed in Arabic. Both poems have been inspired by profound spiritual commentaries throughout the ages, and they are still reverently recited by Sufis and other devout Muslims today.

  • about the “wine” of divine bliss:

Wine, which is strictly forbidden in Islam, was used as a word symbol by the Sufis to indicate spiritual knowledge and ecstasy, and the wine-seller then means the spiritual guide. A tavern is a place where the wine of Divine love makes the pilgrim drunk.

  • Being drunk,

If only for the life of an hour, And you will see the time as a willing slave Under your command.

Because there is no life in this world for someone living here soberly; for someone who does not die drunk, caution has passed him by

So let him cry for himself,

who wastes his life

and who has never won a part or size of this wine

al-Malik al-Kamil found some of his odes so special that he sent the poet an exorbitant amount of money and offered to build a shrine for him. Ibn al-Farid refused both the money and the offer of the sanctuary, and gave his trust in God for his needs. His position as a teacher at the Al Azhar mosque allowed him to take care of his family with three children.

His son described that when a mystical state overcame him, his face grew in beauty and clarity. Sweat leaped from his body and gathered on the floor under his feet, which was a result of jumping and dancing. He would also often fast forty days in which he would not eat, drink or sleep.

During a certain ecstasy, the Shaykh began to scream and danced in the middle of the market / bazaar. Others on the market started to follow him and dance with him, which caused a commotion and some of them fell to the ground. Ibn al-Farid threw off all his clothes, an act repeated by the members of the crowd. Later, the crowd carried the Shaykh in his underwear to the Al Azhar mosque where he stayed in this state for several days …

  • Umar Ibn al-Farid is still very renowed today in 2019 for his great poetry and sufi knowledge of the Heart, in this way we can find in him a “Meeting of the Hearts” may be as St Francis experiened in 1219 , 800 years ago …. Read more here




  • What is the Sufi way … The Sufi Path of Love?

Whatever the threats on the road, for someone who has ever walked this path, there is no way back for him. Even though there is nothing to be seen in the distance of even a faint light or a streak of light under the door of a dark corridor, there is nothing or no one else, because that’s the way it is with those who seek love God …

Ibn al-Farid writes it this way

There is no possibility for me

To leave my path of love,

And if I ever turn away from it

Then I lost my true religion.

If ever a temptation for something other than you

Even in my mind,

Will I die In apostasy.

Your threat is my promise,

Its execution the gift to a friend,

Which is fixed under every visit

Except under that of removal.

On that journey to Him and to yourself, God will not let you down, because then man can no longer do without him, and He knows that. It is the bewilderment of man who suddenly sees in a lightning bolt of revelation the paradisiacal reality as it is …

Now I have the ear of Moses,

Who ever heard the word of God And my heart knows the sight of glory

Who ever saw the eyes of Mohammed

My soul is the soul

Of all that souls are,

While all the beauty you see in creation comes from my clay.

it was no longer that the drop was absorbed into the ocean of life,

but the ocean of life went into the drop that I am.

But the love from religions that worship one God is also always very personal (God is the beloved). It is the unbreakable union between two beings beyond the limits of death, the love that is indestructible.

So we see that for the Sufi the love between man and woman is an imagination of the love between the soul and God, and like a lover he will dream of his beloved, sing her praise, and thirst for a sight of her face, so also the Sufis eternally dream of Allah, and meditate endlessly on His attributes, and is consumed by a burning desire for His presence.

If I lose my life while I love her,

Will that be of benefit to me, I swear;

If she makes my heart sick,

Will she also cure it.

She allowed me

Approach her

Closer than I expected

Or even ever hoped.

Yes, because that is where the love of God differs with the ordinary love between people, even if someone builds the Taj Mahal for it. The love between God and man never goes out. You are always the most coveted, the most favorite, forever. From that experience people went into the desert and they ignored everything. From that experience, revolutions arose in history. Created the great works of art that surmounted the limits of time. But because of that experience, ordinary people can suddenly live again if they look for the meaning of their existence

Fakhr ad-Din al-Farisi

On this left panel of the Peace Triptych is Fakhr ad-Din al-Farisi, a Persian Sufi who has advised Sultan Malik al-Kamil all his life. He was a scholar in astronomy and theology, but also a statesman. He holds the Koran in his hand. Beside him is a falcon, tied to a stick.

It was Fakhr ad-Din, who taught Frederick II how to hunt with falcons when he visited his court in Sicily – thus introducing the introduction of falconry in medieval Europe. In this icon, the falcon represents subdued violence and refers to the teachings of the Quran that all Muslims must follow when engaging in warfare. Fakhr ad-Din and his sultan were exemplary men of peace, who showed mercy for prisoners

Like the Christians, the Muslims believe that man reflects the glory of God – that we are images of God. Saints have purified the mirror of their soul, so that they reflect God very clearly in our midst. The ball of flames behind the head of Fakhr ad-Din is an Islamic symbol of this reflection.

The Falcon:

The falcon is a special symbol of the Soul. The symbolic use is quite normal in a Muslim civilization where the falconry was and is still one of the favorite pursuits. A falcon is a lonely bird and many stories tell how this precious bird fell into the trap of an old woman, as the world is often seen as an old witch trying to seduce people. So, the falcon falls into her trap, and to get out of that, his eyes are covered, until he gets used to his environment. A hood on his head and he forgets for a long time his house and his former mistress .. Until one day he hears the sound of the drum, which calls him back, and he finally finds his way to the presence of his divine Lord . Exactly so, the soul is trapped here in this world and finds the way to the home of his Master. The Sufis would like to compare the return of the tamed, obedient bird on the fist of his master with the Quran (Surah 89: 27-8). “” To the righteous shall be said “: O reassured soul, Go back to your Lord, well satisfied and pleasing to Him, and come to my sincere servants

This comparison was known to Frederick the Second. He was known in his own time as Stupor Mundi (“astonishment of the world”) and spoke six languages: Latin, Sicilian, German, French, Greek and Arabic. He was interested in philosophy and science, and maintained correspondence with the Egyptian sultan Al-Kamil and with Fakr ad-Din. He had even given an imperial banner to the latter; Fakr had this image placed on his own banner, as a tribute to the emperor. At the end of his life, Frederik wrote a standard work on falconry: De Arte Venandi cum Avibus (On the art of hunting with birds).

Look also  Falconry as a Transmutative Art: Dante, Frederick II, and Islam

7 path of Francis and Rumi


I bow in love and gratitude to the mystery and I open my heart full of compassion for all that lives.

I see all creatures as my brothers and sisters and I wear them as I would like to be worn myself.

In surrender I find peace and unarmed I am on my way. Peace I wish friend and foe.

Nothing and nobody I own myself: I live simply and everything is given to me.

Everybody’s servant I am, no one’s slave: That is how I respond to my calling.

I deal with the people without interest. In each I greet the light.

 In joy I live this life, To my lips just a smile

Djalâl’ud-Dîn Rumi left seven wise opinions, which hang on the wall in many Turkish living rooms.

Become like running water in generosity and helpfulness.

The Qur’an says: “Those who give away their possessions, at night and during the day, in secret and in public, they have their merit with their Lord and they have nothing to fear nor will they be sad.” (2: 274) .

Become like the sun in compassion and compassion

All religious and ethical traditions assign an important role to the concept of ‘Compassion’. In practice they find each other in the Golden Rule: “What you do not want you to do, do not do that either.” Or, as the Prophet Muhammad said: “You are not a believer until you wish for your brother what you you wish. “Above each chapter of the Quran is:” In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Merciful. ”

Become like the night in covering other people’s shortcomings.

The Prophet was instructed in the kindest way to deal with those who do not share his faith. Every man is first and foremost a creature of God, regardless of whether he is a believer or an unbeliever. Whatever another person says or believes, we must try to improve the relationship through the best way of communicating.

Become like a deceased person in anger and fanaticism.

The trick is to feel your anger and then let it go, without expressing it. Sometimes we can not go around our anger, but we do not have to become a prisoner of it. The Qur’an says: “Those who prosper in prosperity and in adversity, and those who oppress their anger and forgive men; Allah loves those who do well … “(3: 134).

Become like the earth in modesty and humility.

Humility can not be combined with egoism or egocentricity. Humility should not be confused with lack of self-esteem. It is the opposite of pride or arrogance. The Qur’an says: “And the servants of the Merciful are they who walk meekly on the earth, and when the ignorant address them, they say,” Peace. “(25:63).

Become like the sea in tolerance.

Tolerance or tolerance means the recognition that in addition to their own ideas, habits and characteristics, there are others of equal value. The Qur’an says, “There is no compulsion in religion” (2: 256). And: ‘If you apologize, see and forgive; then Allah is forgiving, merciful. (64:14).

Being yourself for yourself and the outside world is a big task. Aligning your exterior with your interior is an important aspect of our human dignity. That is why Rumi’s first and last advice is:

Be as you pretend or pretend to be the way you are.

Prayer of Francis

Heavenly Father,

Help us to recognize dignity

with which you have endowed each of us.

Allow us to respect your image and reflection in each other

and finding ways to achieve peace

and bring mutual acceptance in our world.

We ask this in Jesus’ Name (… and in Mohamed’s Name).


see also St Francis and the Sufi

– Awakening of the Heart in Dominicus Kerk Amsterdam 13/10/12 part 2